Ahya has worked with the NKF of Illinois (NKFI) for over 15 years to improve the health and well-being of people at risk from or affected by kidney disease in Illinois.
“This award is an opportunity to spotlight the work of the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois and its many volunteer nephrologists, social workers, dietitians and nurses who serve our kidney community,” Ahya said. “I would like to express my gratitude to Dr. Paul Palevsky, president of the Board of Directors, and to the National Kidney Foundation for the recognition.”
Ahya is a clinical nephrologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center. She treats many adults with chronic kidney disease, which affects approximately 37 million American adults. The gradual loss of kidney function can cause high blood pressure, anemia and nerve damage, in addition to predisposing patients to cardiovascular disease.
The NKFI provides community-based mobile screenings for kidney disease and in-person educational events such as “Living with Kidney Disease and Transplantation” and the Spanish-language version, “Viviendo con Enfermedad Renal y Trasplante.”
“Interacting with our community outside of the clinic or hospital adds another layer to understand how best to provide kidney care,” said Ahya, who is also the chairperson of the Professional Advisory Board of the NKFI.
The NKF also lobbies on behalf of patients with kidney disease and was involved in the effort to pass the Living Donor Protections Act (H.B. 2847), which protects living organ donors from retaliation based on donor status.
“Advocacy for kidney patients is also important,” Ahya said.
Ahya received the award during the virtual NKF Spring Clinical Meetings in April, a five-day seminar designed to educate professionals on hundreds of studies and research findings of the last year.